Primary tabs

Letter from Henry Fisher to Pennsylvania Committee of Safety



Lewes, April 1, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: On Monday evening last a man-of-war and her tender came within the pitch of our cape, and anchored, as you have been informed by last express. The pilot-boat stationed near Lewes- Creek' s mouth, did not discover the signal at the Light-House, nor see the ship that evening, as it was near dark before she came to the pitch of the cape; and when the alarm-guns were fired the people on board the boats, although they heard them very plainly, imagined, as they said, that we were cleaning the guns with a proof charge.

Tuesday morning the man-of-war' s boat took my pilot-boat, the wind being light and northerly, and ebb tide. But before they boarded her the hands in the pilot-boat left her, and rowed on shore at the Broad-Kill in their skiff. The same day the man-of-war, with her tenders and boats, took a small sloop, then lying in the road, belonging to Egg-Harbour, in ballast, the people of whom left her first in their boat. They also took two other small sloops from Philadelphia — one to Sinepussent, the other to North-Carolina; and on Wednesday sent them on shore in their Own small boats. Stripped and scuttled the aforesaid three sloops, and set them adrift. By these people we learned that it was Captain Hammond, of the King' s ship the Roebuck, of forty-five guns.

They made another tender of the pilot-boat; sent her out, took a New-England sloop bound to Philadelphia for corn; and that night, lying too near the cape, the hand at the helm falling asleep let the pilot-boat run on the beach, when the Third Lieutenant, their pilot, and two sailors, left her, went on the cape, and were taken on Thursday by our men. We stripped the pilot-boat of everything of value, and found ten muskets and five pistols, which had been thrown over the side where the boat lies. On Friday and Saturday they took nothing. On Friday the sloop Hornet appeared near Indian-River, and sent on shore and got a pilot, but we have not seen her since; and the same evening the brig Captain Barry came down under Cape-May,


and on Sunday morning went out. The ship and tender put out to sea also after the brig, but returned on Sunday evening into the road. We have been day and night on guard, both on the cape and at Lewes and Pilot-town.

The several companies of Militia from all parts of the country who live within twenty, or five-and-twenty miles of Lewes, came in as soon as they could be expected, seemed all unanimous and hearty in the cause, determined to defend their country. There have been near one thousand men in at times the last week, so that we were obliged to discharge many of them, not having occasion for half the number. We prevailed on those who lived at a distance to leave some of the best of their arms, (for numbers of them want fire-locks,) which are not to be purchased.

On Saturday last Captain Pope' s Company, of the Delaware Battalion of regular soldiers, came down from Kent, all well equipped. How long the ship intends to stay we cannot learn. If anything material should happen I shall endeavour to let you know it.

I am, gentlemen, your very humble servant,


To the Committee of Safety of Philadelphia.

P˙ S˙ From what I can learn from the prisoners that we have got, you may daily expect several large ships; therefore, I hope that you may be upon your guard, as, from what I can learn, they are to come up your river. The Lieutenant and other prisoners will be sent up to you tomorrow by land, or else it shall cost me a fall.